Job seekers—you HAVE to dress better for interviews. We're seeing more and more candidates rejected due to inappropriate interview attire. Regardless of whether it's intentional, human beings make immediate assessments based on appearance and the first interview is part of the "weed out" process. Do everything in your power to look amazing and professional on your next interview. Know your audience and choose your clothes wisely. Please do not show up to your next interview having committed any of these 5 major interview fashion faux pas:
1. The Non-Suit
Yes, that’s right. You need to wear a suit to a job interview. I’m not sure where this idea came from that it was acceptable to wear a maxi dress, a sleeveless top without a jacket, or khakis and a button-down shirt, but PLEASE save these things for after you get the job.
2. The Bad Suit
It is not okay to wear gray trousers and a black blazer. That's not a suit. A suit is trousers and a jacket in the same color, cut from the same fabric. If your suit is wrinkled, you'll need to iron it or have it dry cleaned. Save the tweed for the fox hunt. Make sure your suit fits properly. Be mindful of sleeve length, trouser length, and make sure you can comfortably button the jacket. Outside of a few creative jobs in areas like fashion, art/design, and maybe some hipster marketing firms—you should not aim to make a creative fashion statement on your job interview. Do you want the team talking about your wrinkled shirt or your project management skills?
3. The Short Skirt and/or Low-Cut Top
You should only wear a skirt to a job interview if it’s part of a suit. If you’re wearing a skirt that’s not a suit, please review rule #1. Skirts should fall at knee length or just above. To be clear, “just above" the knee is no more than one inch. Yes, this seems long (and it is). However, you will most likely be sitting down in your job interview and wearing a skirt that hits much above the knee can cause problems. Avoid V-neck tops and anything else low-cut. Ladies, you should have ZERO CLEAVAGE EXPOSED. Yes, I just said cleavage in a work related blog. Try on your top ahead of time and practice leaning over to make sure nothing is exposed.
4. The Distracting Shoes and/or Socks
If you’re wearing a navy suit, wear navy shoes. If you’re wearing a black suit, wear black shoes. Men, it is not okay to wear brown shoes with a black suit. And it is never EVER acceptable for your bare leg to show up when you sit down. Make sure your socks are long enough to prevent this distraction. The general rule for men and women is that the shoes should be as dark or darker than the clothes. Ladies, it is not okay to wear platforms, 4 inch wedges, or any heel above 2-3 inches. Invest in a pair of black heels with a simple structure and a modest heel. Keep the interview focused on you, not your feet.
5. The Stink
When it comes to perfume or cologne, a little dab will do you. We once interviewed someone who, within two minutes of entering our office, blessed our entire suite with the smell of her perfume...and it was not good. Perfume and cologne are such an individualized thing and not everyone is going to love yours. Keep all scents very light and minimal. If you smoke, do not spray extra perfume or cologne to cover it up. It doesn’t work. Just try not to smoke right before your job interview.
6. The House With No Mirrors
Please make sure you’re well groomed before your interview. Since this term means different things to different people, I mean freshly showered with dry hair that's styled in a simple, classic way. A few months ago I interviewed someone who was in a nice black suit, but forgot to brush her hair—and not in the “I got caught in a windstorm on my way in from the parking lot” kind of way. It was so confusing. Did she forget? Did she not look in the mirror? Is she taking this job seriously? I was trying to listen to her talk about her strengths and all I could think about was whether she owned a brush or a mirror.
A successful job interview requires you to put forth your absolute best image possible and a job interview is a totally separate category from professional dress. It's the tuxedo-level of the professional dress world. If you could see yourself wearing your interview outfit to a wedding or out for drinks with your friends, then it's probably not interview appropriate. Keep these tips in mind, and you'll be back for a second interview in no time!
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